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Do you get the winnings from a free bet?

The short answer is yes, you do get to keep any winnings from a successful free bet. However, there is a catch. The stake amount is not returned to you like with a normal cash bet. You only receive the net profit, not the full payout.

As an avid sports bettor and gaming enthusiast, I want to provide you with an in-depth guide to fully understanding free bets and how to maximize your winnings. There are clever tricks that even professional punters overlook!

What Exactly is a Free Bet?

Before jumping into the winnings, we need to cover the basics of what a free bet even is.

A free bet is a promotional bonus offered by betting operators to attract new customers or reward existing ones. It provides you with a token or virtual credit that can be used to place a real money wager, without having to risk any of your own funds.

Here are some key attributes of standard free bets:

  • The stake comes out of your "Free Plays" balance, not cash balance
  • Most sites use "Stake Not Returned" rules
  • Winnings paid are the profit only, not the full payout
  • Can be worth anywhere from $5 up to $500 generally

So in summary, a free bet gives you a chance at real winnings, without the risk! Now let‘s look at optimizing those potential winnings.

You Don‘t Get the Stake Back – That‘s the Catch!

This is the pivotal point that free bets differ from cash bets when it comes to winnings. With a normal bet, your payout includes the returned stake plus the profit.

But according to most sites‘ terms, free bets are not included in the payout. You only receive the net profit, not the initial staked amount.

For example, if you place a $10 free bet at odds of 4/1 and win, your payout would be just the $40 profit. With a cash bet you would get back the $50 full payout including original stake.

This key difference means you want to use strategies to maximize the profit potential when dealing with free bets and their winnings.

Backing Higher Odds is Best for Free Bets

Due to not getting your stake back, the ideal scenario for free bets is backing selections with odds as close to 2.0 (Evens) as possible. This will optimize the percentage return.

Here is a quick example to demonstrate:

Odds Stake Potential Winnings
1/10 $10 $11
4/5 $10 $18
6/5 $10 $22
13/10 $10 $26

As you can see, the higher the odds, the greater profit can be achieved as a percentage of your free bet stake. Avoid very short odds like 1/10 when using free plays.

Of course you still need the bet to actually win! But with good odds analysis and smart selections, you can maximize potential winnings.

Matched Betting Removes the Risk Element

Rather than leave winnings to chance, there is a clever technique known as matched betting that guarantees a profit from any free bet regardless of the outcome.

This completely eliminates the risk normally associated with gambling, and the variance of results. Here is a quick overview of how matched betting works:

  • Place your free bet on one outcome

  • Bet normal cash on the opposite outcome at calculated stakes

  • If done correctly, you lock in a fixed return through arbitrage

  • The actual result becomes irrelevant – you profit either way!

Matched betting does require some learning and use of software tools. But once mastered it converts any free bet into cold hard cash profits with almost no risk. I highly recommend looking into it.

Crunching the Numbers Behind Free Bet Profits

Let‘s take a deeper look at the maths and expected value when it comes to generating winnings from free bets on sporting events:

  • Bookmaker margins mean average odds are less than 100% probable

  • Therefore the expected return on any bet is negative

  • But free bets overcome this as you risk nothing for the chance of winnings

  • Maximizing the odds is key to raise the expected return into positive EV

Here‘s an example of a $10 free bet at varying odds and the expected return:

Odds Expected Return
1/10 -$9.09
Evens $0
5/4 $5

As you can see, getting the odds up towards Evens or better is crucial to tipping the expected value in your favor and generating consistent profits off free bets rather than just winning here and there by luck.

Common Free Bet Restrictions to Watch Out For

While free bets offer lots of upside, there are some restrictions punters should be aware of:

  • Expiry dates – most free bets expire within 7-30 days if unused

  • Wagering requirements – you may have to bet winnings X times before withdrawing

  • Minimum odds – often 1.5 or 2.0 minimum odds required

  • Bet types – sometime excludes certain markets like horse racing

  • Locations – free bet often geo-restricted to certain countries

So always carefully read the full terms and conditions attached to any free bet offer before you try and use it. This avoids nasty surprises!

Could Arbitrage Betting be Considered "Risk-Free"?

An alternative technique beyond matched betting that also removes risk is known as arbitrage betting. This involves placing bets at different bookies on opposing outcomes to guarantee a profit.

For example, Backing Team A to win at Bookmaker 1, then laying Team A to lose at Bookmaker 2. If done right, the variance in odds between bookies means you lock in a return regardless of the match result.

The guarantees of arbitrage mean you can classify it as risk-free. But it requires significant funds to place the opposing bets, so isn‘t feasible for most bettors. Matched betting only requires a free bet.

What‘s the Best Strategy for Multiple Free Bets?

If you‘re lucky enough to have several free bets at once, you‘ll want to maximize them by diversifying. Simply sticking them all on one huge accumulator is very high-risk.

Instead consider using strategies like:

  • Matched betting each one individually

  • Backing both sides of a market across different bets

  • Combining low, medium and high odds selections

  • Hedging by betting opposites to guarantee profits

  • Allowing time for them all to be used before expiring

Having a clear staking plan for multiple free bets will get you the highest combined returns. Don‘t waste them all on one throw of the dice!

My Top Tips for Profiting from Free Bets

After breaking down all the intricacies around free bets and their lucrative potential winnings, here are my top expert tips:

  • Back odds over 2.0 – Anything lower has negative expected value

  • Learn matched betting – This removes the risk and guarantees profits

  • Check the terms – Don‘t get caught out by sneaky rules

  • Have a staking plan – Getting organized maximizes your returns

  • Withdraw winnings – Don‘t be tempted to chase losses! Enjoy your profits

Conclusion – Free Bets Are Great If Used Correctly

While not as financially rewarding as cash bets, free bets still represent an amazing opportunity for savvy bettors to rack up solid winnings totally risk-free in many cases. Just be sure to use them strategically.

I hope this detailed gambling guide gives you the expertise needed to master the lucrative world of free bets and their tantalizing winning potential. Just remember to always gamble responsibly!

Let me know if you have any other free bet questions. I‘m happy to share more professional tips and tricks with fellow betting enthusiasts.